This letter was emailed to Jeff Wulfson at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on October 22, 2010.
Dear Mr. Wulfson;
In following up on my emails to Mr. Rick Veilleux (that you have been copied on), please note that Mr. Veilleux appears to be hesitant in replying to my requests for clarification on the transportation issue. It is my understanding that MVRCS is currently using the 770 Salem Street facility as its ‘hub’ and therefore denying transportation to that facility for families that are within 2 driven miles. It is also my understanding that these students must be transported to the ‘hub’ and are then permitted to take a bus to the High School. Further, if I understand the current policy correctly, High School students are charged the $200.00 transportation fee if they reside outside of 2 driven miles from the ‘hub’ and then an additional $100.00 for transportation from the 770 Salem Street facility to the High School. I would just like you to confirm that this is the current policy and, more importantly, that this is within the laws, regulations, and guidelines established by your agency.
In reviewing materials I have come across the following note which was copied from the DESE website regarding term limits:
“In brief, the term limits debate derives from the bylaws that the School proposed with its original charter application that the original members of the Board of Trustees would serve until they resigned. Exh. 1, page 44. See also Exh. 1, pages 8-9, 20 (identifying founding members). Changing this provision was a condition of the State Board’s 2004 charter renewal, and an agreement on three consecutive 3-year terms (9 years total) was slowly reached. Exh. 9 (Department’s approval letter dated 3/23/07). See also Exh. 192 (former Commissioner Driscoll’s September 2006 update to State Board).”
Unfortunately, the document, link, or school that is being referenced was not referenced within my notes. As you are the main contact for MVRCS and would be aware of any conditions imposed upon them, do you know if this was this in reference to MVRCS or if the dates discussed would align with the schools renewal dates. If it does not, is there a reason as to why one school may have had that included in their renewal while no such condition has been required of MVRCS.
I would also like to draw your attention to a document regarding Hughes Charter School and the conditions imposed on them for their 2004 charter renewal (www.doe.mass.edu/boe/docs/0110/item3_091806memo.doc). It seems as though their charter renewal was contingent upon meeting conditions that addressed AYP, potential conflict of interest laws, the hiring of a consultant, incorporating term limits for Board of Trustees into the schools by-laws, and address issues pertaining to an audit that was conducted by the Office of the State Auditor. It is disturbing to think that while the DESE has been contacted by numerous parents regarding similar issues and concerns within MVRCS, that the DESE has not placed any conditions or such requirements upon them. I must admit, that conditions and requirements may have been placed upon MVRCS that I have been unable to locate on your website and I would welcome you to forward any such document to me.
It was noted in your site visit that the school does not always follow the law regarding the Executive Meetings yet it does not seem as though any conditions or requirements were placed upon the school. In reviewing documents specifically regarding MVRCS, I was able to locate reference to their charter renewal and a Board of Educator members question regarding the schools failure to follow the Open Meeting Laws. Mary Street simply stated that it was the responsibility of the Attorney General to enforce the law. It would seem obvious that the Board of Trustees refuses to follow the laws that govern them and one must question 1. Why they refuse to do so, specifically what are they attempting to keep from the parents, and 2. If the DESE filed a complaint or conducted any follow-up with the Attorney General to ensure that the Board was in compliance.
A side note regarding the Boards recluctence to follow the laws that govern Board of Trustees and Open Meetings, it has been mentioned to us that Neil Kinnon 'threatened' to stop opening the Board meetings up to the public. Apparently during the last meeting he was not happy with the direction the meeting was going and made a statement to the effect that they 'didn't have to open the meetings' to the public.
My final question would be in questioning how one would go about requesting a financial audit (similar to the one conducted at Hughes Charter) be conducted on the financial records of MVRCS. In reviewing their Annual Reports and their Financial Reports filed with the DESE, I have noted a number of discrepancies (yet I must admit I have no experience or knowledge within the financial field) and questions. As you may be aware, the school recently refused to release their payroll records as required under the FOIA and/or the Massachusetts Public Record law but rather chose to take out a paid advertisement listing their top 20 highest paid employees. I find the data provided questionable as a number of key personnel were not included. Again, their failure to follow the law has caused me to question the reason(s) they are unwilling to do so. It was also noted in the audit conducted on the Hughes Charter School that the school was reprimanded for not abiding by the competitive bid process that is required of them. I would question whether MVRCS follows these same laws and regulations, especially going forward as they begin construction on their new facility. Finally, I draw your attention to the Inspector General’s review of Assabet Valley Regional Charter School (@ http://www.mass.gov/ig/publ/assabet.pdf) , specifically Finding 2 (page 3) where the school was found to be excessive in their spending. As MVRCS financials will show, the list of expenditures (year ending 2008) that appear excessive in comparison to other districts include, ‘Instructional Leadership’ travel expense of $67,785.00, ‘Professional Development travel and other expenses’ of $77,468, Administration ‘Recruitment/Advertising’ of $91,304.00, ‘Travel, Dues, and other expenses’ of $48, 418.00 and ‘Fringe’ benefits of $990,587.00. These are just a few examples from one financial report that have caused me to question the financial management and integrity of the financial reports being submitted.
In closing, I must question why it does not appear as though MVRCS is being held to the same standards, laws, regulations, expectations that govern our charter schools and schools in general. I thank you for your time and attention to these matters and look forward to your response to the same.
- Complete List of All Links
- Massive List of Educational Consultants, Advocate, Attorneys...Plus
- Conflict of Issues and Lottery Issues
- MVRCS Management and Operations
- List of DESE, Community Leaders and Media Contacted
- Parents Questions, Concerns, and Misc Information
- Top 20 MVRCS Employees
- Boston.com Reader Comments
- Legal Disclaimer
- Copy: Top 50 Paid Employees @ MVRC Posted in the Boston Globe